BEACON – The Bulldogs sat in a circle on a water break during practice at Rombout Middle School Friday.
They laughed. They joked. And when it came time to regroup and work on defense, everything clicked.
“We work pretty well together,” senior slot receiver and free safety Alex Benson said. “We’re pretty connected, so we have a good chemistry on the field.”
The Beacon High School football team hopes to put that team chemistry to good use this season under new head coach Tony Truscello. Truscello, 62, has been in the business of coaching for 40 years and has experience coaching the Bulldogs: he served as Beacon’s head coach from 2002-2005.
Last year, Truscello was an assistant under Brian Mahon, who stepped down to spend more time with his family. In the early going, Truscello has sensed that his team knows its responsibility and is ready to take it on.
“As a player, as a person, as a teammate,” the coach said. “Those are the things that get you through the season. Xs and Os we always could do, conditioning we always could do. But teaching them how to be a good person and a good teammate — that’s the things that are going to count.”
The team is also enjoying itself.
Senior linebacker Joe Ferrone, who last year averaged eight tackles per game, said the Bulldogs are having fun in the midst of all the hard work. They get to Hammond Field for warmups and playfully tease each other, staying loose to add to the team dynamic.
“Early in the morning we’re all tired and everybody just tries to cut each other. What they’re wearing,” Ferrone said. “Coaches. No socks. All the kids make fun of them.”
But along with the laughs to keep up team morale, the Bulldogs are taking matters seriously. Truscello hopes Ferrone provides guidance for younger players, like sophomore guard Trey Dinio and freshman linebacker Angel Feliz.
“We’ve got good senior leadership from Joe Ferrone. He’s going into that role,” Truscello said. “He’s the one with the most experience throughout our program. He’s the one, the guy we all lean on.”
He’s not only accepted that role, but also gained a certain closeness with this year’s team.
“It’s my senior season. I’m surrounded by some of my best friends and I feel closer than I did last year to that team,” Ferrone said.
Ferrone and Benson are in good company in terms of upperclassmen, with senior wide receiver and cornerback Forever Williams and junior quarterback Jaden Navarro.
The corps of Bulldogs will look to improve upon last season, in which the team went 1-7. Beacon played in last year’s Section 1 Class A qualifying round, but was ousted by Yorktown.
The Bulldogs start the season Saturday, Sept. 3 against Rye — the team that eliminated Beacon in the section quarterfinals two years ago.
Those who were there remember it well and want nothing more than to begin the new season on a winning note.
“We lost in the playoffs (to Rye),” Benson said. “They’re going to come down here and try to beat us, but we want to win. It should be a pretty good game.”
A.J. Martelli: email@example.com, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports